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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  February 12, 2020 9:29am-1:29pm EST

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after words, sally pipes makes the argument against medicare for all in her latest book "false premise, false promise", just in december there were over 4 million brits on a waiting list to get treatment and the cancer treatment is not supposed to be delayed from seeing a general practitioner to general treatment more than 62 days. they haven't met the u.k. that standard for over five years and more important, under the world health organization study, brits are the bottom of the rung in most industrialized countries. >> watch after words sunday night on book tv on c-span2. >> the u.s. senate is about to gavel in. lawmakers will begin with about an hour or so of debate on judicial nominations until 10:30 eastern, when they plan to take four confirmation votes. those nominees include josh
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kindred for alaska. and now to live coverage. u.s. senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. o god, who sustains our universe by your boundless power,
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preserve our senators with your goodness and rule them with your justice. lord, we cast ourselves entirely upon your faithfulness, for you are the source of every blessing. stabilize our lawmakers in the midst of the contradictions of reality. grant that they will be able to make sense out of life's complexities. lord, help our legislatures know the constancy of your presencened and the certainty of our judgement, as you guide them with your
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higher wisdom. we pray in your generous name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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mr. grassley: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask permission to speak for one minute in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. grass this friday --. mr. grassley: this friday marks the two-year anniversary of the shooting at the school in parkland, florida. 17 innocent lives were lost at the hands of evil. we will never forget that tragic moment and day. i'm dedicated to keeping weapons from dangerous people. that's why i've introduced the eagles act the past two years. this bipartisan, bicameral bill reauthorizes and expands the leading center in threat
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assessment and prevention. this bill is a tribute to the victims and the families. also the justice department still hasn't provided its report on the shooting to congress. i hope the department of justice will get off the stick. they owe it to the families to get this report done. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: yesterday, the united states army and the commonwealth of kentucky both received some really great news. secretary of the army ryan mccarthy and army chief of staff general james mcconville announced that fort knox will be the headquarters for the new army corps. they stopped by my office last night to discuss the good news. the new fifth corps will support u.s. forces and operations in europe, helping fulfill requirements of the national defense strategy. it's expected to bring more than 600 additional soldiers to fort
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knox. along with congressman brett guthrie and senator paul, i had urged army leadership to select fort knox for this new corps headquarters. and obviously, we think they made a great choice. now fifth corps will join the eight commands already stationed there, including the army's human resources, recruiting and cadet commands. i have worked for years to help ensure that fort knox receives the resources and national attention that it deserves. so it's really great to see the army agrees that its high-quality facilities are perfect for these new headquarters and the extraordinary work of the knox regional development alliance has made it a wonderful place both to live and to work, both for service members and for their families. last year, i was proud to host defense secretary mark esper in kentucky to meet with members of the fort knox community. i'm certainly grateful to him,
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secretary mccarthy, and general mcconville for recognizing our potential. now, on another matter, today the senate will consider a war powers resolution offered by the junior senator from virginia. our colleague's resolution is deeply flawed on a number of levels. as i explained yesterday, it is too blunt and too broad. it is also an abuse of the war powers act which was designed to strike a balance between the president's constitutional war powers and congress' own war powers and oversight responsibilities. some of us believe the war powers act went too far in undermining the separation of powers and infringing upon the authorities of the commander in chief. but apart from that debate, everyone should acknowledge that it was designed to stop vietnam's, the deployment of thousands of troops into sustained combat without congressional authorization. not the one-off uses of limited
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force that presidents have carried out literally for centuries. until recently, most in this body recognized the need for presidents to have flexibility with respect to the threat of military force. they saw the deterrent effect and diplomatic utility of keeping our options open. during president obama's tenure, democrats said frequently that when it comes to iran, we should never take the military option off the table. but now they seek to use this privileged resolution to do precisely that. the collateral institutional damage of this action would fall on our military, its ability to operate quickly and adaptively and emerging threats would be jeopardized. colleagues, if you want to take the truly significant step of preemptively taking options off the table for defending our troops, if you really want to remove troops from syria or iraq altogether, why don't you just be honest about it and make your case? find 60 votes to pass legislation. find 67 votes to override a
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presidential veto. don't use a blunt and imprecise war powers resolution to end run around the constitutional structures. it makes it a difficult proposition by design. there is no ongoing, contracted combat with respect to iran. our troops are not mired in unending hostilities. the war powers act aims to impose a 60-day clock on combat operations. the strike that killed soleimani took maybe 60 seconds. let me say that again. the strike took about 60 seconds. clearly, this is the wrong tool for this subject. so, madam president, we have just come through an impeachment trial because house democrats rushed to use this serious tool as a political weapon of first resort rather than patiently conducting more normal oversight using the normal tools that congresses of both parties particular cally use.
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no patience for ordinary oversight. just rush to grab the bluntest tool available to make a political statement against the president. well, this war powers debate bears an eerie resemblance to that pattern. to listen to some of the advocates of senator kaine's resolution, you would think that sweeping resolutions like this were the only means available to senators to express any discomfort with white house foreign policy. of course, that isn't so. if a senator's priority is genuine oversight, there are countless tools in their toolbox. they can hold hearings. they can engage the administration directly. they can ask questions and ravishes. they feel were not sufficiently addressed in interagency deliberations. instead, like impeachment, this war powers resolution cuts short that interplay between the branches. it short circuits the deliberation and debate. it is dangerously overbroad, an
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overbroad resolution that should not pass congress, that is certain to be vetoed if it does. if my colleagues want to make a real difference, this is not the way to go. the amendments my republican colleagues and i have filed expose the shortcomes and unintended -- shortcomings and unintended risk of this approach. senator kaine has drafted a rule that tries to provide obstruction to u.s. troops to defend themselves against an attack if it is, quote, imminent. my amendment exposes the absurdity of this by simply removing the word imminent. how imminent exactly is imminent enough? when do our men and women in uniform get to defend themselves? i'd like to know. should our service members need to sit on intelligence until an attack is a week away, a day away, an hour away, until they see the whites of the enemy's eyes? and who makes the determination about imminence?
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535 members of congress, the president, a pentagon lawyer, a battlefield commander, some young private? this resolution imposes a new constraint on the military without answering any of those questions. if we have intelligence warning that an enemy is planning to attack our forces, can we not disrupt the plot until the attack is almost under way? senators cotton, rounds, and sullivan have also filed amendments. they propose sensible additions to give our troops and their commanders more confidence we aren't trying to tie their hands against precisely the threat they might face if iran were again to become emboldened enough to attack us. oh, and to make sure we can defend our diplomats and embassies, too, if they were to face renewed threats. so clearly, madam president, this resolution is not ready for prime time. i believe it is just an effort to broadcast a political message, but even that message can be harmful to our troops and
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to our national security. so what message will the senate send to american service members? should they doubt whether their own leaders are authorized to defend them? what message should we send to our regional allies and partners? can they count on continued solidarity from the united states? what would it say to a real great power and supports like russia and china if we cannot even remain united in the face of a lesser challenge, such as iran. let's send the right message with our votes. let's defeat this misguided resolution. now, madam president, i understand there is a bill at the desk due a second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the second time. the clerk: s. 3275, a bill to amend title 18, united states code, to protect pain-capable unborn children, and for other
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purposes. mr. mcconnell: in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14, i would object to further proceeding. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill will be placed on the calendar. under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, joshua m. kindred of alaska, to be united states district judge for the district of alaska. mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: the minority leader from illinois. mr. durbin: last week, the
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senate concluded the impeachment proceeding. i heard one of my colleagues say it is the most serious thing that the united states senate has the constitutional authority to do. that argument could be made, but i would disagree. i think the most serious thing that we are assigned under the constitution is the declaration of war, because, you see, it isn't just a matter of the fate, the political fate of any individual. it's the matter of the lives of many good people in america who serve in our armed forces who may be in danger in we decide to go to war. even under the best circumstances, quick and effective war can lead to the deaths of brave and innocent americans who are simply serving their country. and that's why the comments made by the majority leader this morning need to be responded to. his suggestion that the kaine -- senator kaine's war powers resolution is a mistake, i think, really ignores the
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obvious. it has been 18 years, almost 18 years since congress and the senate had an active debate about the united states engaging in war. i remember that debate very well in 2002, because it was a debate which consumed the intention of the senate, the house, and the nation over whether or not we would invade iraq and whether or not we would invade afghanistan. most of us remember the argument made by the bush administration for the invasion of iraq. we were told that there were weapons of mass destruction in that country that could threaten our -- the neighbors of iraq, our allies, and even the united states. over and over gephardt, we heard that phrase, weapons of mass destruction, weapons of mass destruction. i was serving on the senate against committee at that time. i remember the testimony,
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classified testimony behind closed doors. i had serious doubts in my mind as to whether they had established that weapons of mass destruction actually existed and whether or not authorizing a war meant that we would just use that as a device to force iraq into better conduct or would actually invade their country. as a consequence, i joined 22 other senators in voting against the invasion of iraq which we voted on the floor of the senate in 2002. 22 democrats, one republican all voted against that invasion of iraq. obviously, we did not prevail. the majority gave that authority to president george w. bush, and the invasion was under way. i can still remember it. i can remember the unfolding events as our troops arrived, made their impact on that nation, and eventually took control of iraq. then the search was on for the
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weapons of mass destruction which led to our invasion of iraq, and the search continued for days and weeks and months without any evidence of weapons of mass destruction. it was a farce. it was a fraud on the american public. almost 5,000 americans lost their lives because of the invasion of iraq. but the premise that led to that invasion was misleading information from an administration. but at least i will say this, there was a debate, there was a vote on the floor of the united states senate. did anyone at that time believe 18 years ago that we were voting for a war in iraq that would continue for 18 years? on the invasion of afghanistan, the argument was made, convinced me and virtually every other member of congress, that the parties responsible for the
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tragedy an terror of 9/11 were somehow camped in afghanistan and we needed to go after isis and all those responsible for the invasion of the united states. i voted for that, but i'll have to say as well there wasn't a single senator or member of the house who really believed that 18 years later we would still be at war in afghanistan, yet we are. the president's now talking about removing more troops from afghanistan. we'll see. we've heard these promises before. perhaps it will lead to such a decision by the administration. but the point i'm getting to is the kaine war powers resolution really addresses the most fundamental question of our constitutional authority and responsibility to declare war. as senator kaine says in this resolution, which i'm happy to cosponsor, congress has the sole power to declare war under
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article 1, section 8, clause 11, of the united states constitution. when i hear senator mcconnell come to the floor this morning and argue against the united states senate stepping forward and asserting its constitutional authority, i wonder, how does he explain in the commonwealth of kentucky that we are still engaged in a war 18 years after there was any vote for an authorization of the use of military force in iraq and in afghanistan? and the larger question, which senator kaine and i tried to raise in this resolution is, what does this mean in terms of our future relationship with iran, the neighbor of iraq? we know we've had a rocky and contentious relationship with that country. we know that they have engaged in acts of terrorism which have cost american lives. there has been tension between our countries for decades. we know that full well.
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but president obama tried to at least bring some sanity to the relationship by eliminating the ability of the iranians to develop nuclear weapons. he felt, i felt, and most americans felt that was a step in the right direction. take the nuclear weapons out of the hands of iran so that even if they are engaged in conduct which we find reprehensible it would not reach the horrible level of a nuclear confrontation. i thought the president was right, i supported the effort, president obama's efforts to develop this inspection mechanism where international inspectors would come into iran and see if they were developing weapons and report to the world. we engaged countries around the world to join us in this effort to stop the development of nuclear weapons in iran. it was an incredible coalition which included russia and china that joined with us and the european nations to impose this
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elimination of nuclear weapons in iran. i thought it was a move in the right direction to have this kind of international support. yet, when president trump took office, sadly he kept his promise to eliminate the nuclear control agreement between the united states, iran, and the other parties. by eliminating it, he basically gave permission to the iranians to continue their development of nuclear weapons, yet he warned the iranians if they did, there was a price to pay, the very reason why this resolution by senator kaine is relevant and why we need to consider what the next step will be. because if we are going to stop the iranians from developing a nuclear weapon, and i pray that they will not, how are we going to do it and how much force will we use in response? will it be authorized by the constitution and by congress? i listened to senator mcconnell this morning and he has basically said, do nothing.
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do nothing. don't assert the constitutional authority of the congress under the constitution when it comes to any declaration of war against iran or any future military endeavors. he described this as a one-off situation -- a one-off use of force that we currently have seen in the targeting of general solemoni. perhaps it was. we don't know the answer to that. when it happened a few weeks ago, we don't know of what would follow. that uncertainty is still here today. the majority leader said he felt the impeachment effort which came before the senate in the last week would not have occurred if we had been patient. and he said, this is another example of impatience where we are setting up this constitutional responsibility of the administration. i disagree with him on two accounts. if senator mcconnell was
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counseling patience, patience at an impeachment trial would have involved evidence, documents, and witnesses, yet he was impatient to get it over with without any evidence coming before the united states senate. i also would say that patience a good virtue when it comes to most of life's experiences, and it certainly is if there's a prospect of war. what senator kaine is doing is asserting the authority of congress to step up and be party to the discussions about whether we move beyond the current situation to one which involves troops or any type of invasion of territory in iran. i see senator kaine is on the floor and i'm going to defer to him at this moment. i will tell you this before i sit down. as long as i've been a member of the house and the senate, i have felt that congress has a responsibility under the constitution to declare war. it's a responsibility which most members of congress talk about a lot but, frankly, don't want to face. they don't want to be on the
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record for or against war for fear they'll guess wrong in terms of certain foreign policy decisions. regardless, i think the framers of our constitution understood full well that if we're going to ask american families to potentially sacrifice the lives of their sons and daughters in combat and in war, they should have a voice on the decision of going to war and that's what this article in the constitution provides, a voice for the united states public when it comes through their congress as to whether or not we're going to engage in a war. otherwise we find ourselves in a situation like today, 18 years after an authorization of use of military force, and part of it under false pretenses, continuing a military effort that was never truly authorized. i support senator kaine in this effort. i'm glad it's a bipartisan resolution. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from virginia is
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recognized. mr. kaine: madam president, i rise only briefly to thank my colleague. i'm actually scheduled to take the floor later this afternoon to talk upon this topic, but i wanted to come in here with senator durbin. i appreciate his effort. he has been a powerful advocate of this principle that we don't stand in contradiction of this president or any president when we stand for the proposition that congress should do its job under article 1 of the constitution, and i applaud my colleague for his strong support. i will take the floor later today to talk about the bipartisan resolution he was just described. with that, madam president. i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: will the senator withhold his request? mr. kaine: i will withhold the request. the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: i ask to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: we were scheduled to
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speak on the -- a resolution of disapproval on the secretary devos's new rule. i would like to talk about the background of this new procedure. although it is likely to be postponed until after the presidential birthday recess, i still think members should reflect on the importance of this measure. in 1992, congress added a provision to the higher education act that would allow student borrowers that were defrauded by their schools to have federal loans discharged. the federal government recognizes the accreditation of colleges and universities. with that, those colleges and universities can offer federal loans to the students who attend. so there is a partnership that begins this process and this relationship. and the partnership is a seal of approval by the federal
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government, and then the authorization of federal loans. what we found was that some of the institutions that were given permission to authorize federal student loans for those attending their institutions, in fact, were lying to the students. so the students were in a situation where they incurred a debt in student loans for promises made by a college and university which turned out to be false. and we said under the law that's not fair to the student and the student's family. those students can be discharged from debt if, in fact, that college or university -- defrauded them. what would be a typical fraud? to invite students to enroll in your college with the promise that the colleges they took in that college that the credits would be trrvel to another -- transfederal to another school and it turns out to be a lie. that if you satisfy the
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requirements for nursing, for example, and that turns out to be a lie or the possibility that you would finish the courses at this school and get a job at -- in a certain field, great promises are made to the students and it turns out to be a lie. and these students, many of whom are young and facing the first contractual decision of their life were defrauded. we said under the law those students should have an opportunity to discharge the student loan. bad enough they were lied to. bad enough they wasted their time. bad enough they had a college experience which didn't make life better for them, but to be saddled with a debt because that school lied to you, defrauded you is unacceptable. that is called borrower defense. under president obama, we found many schools, almost exclusively for-profit colleges and universities like corinthian and
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i.t.t. and others that lied to students what their experience would be if they went to school there. and those students, having been saddled with a debt having been lied to, went to the department of education to have at least some of that debt discharged. there was some success in that. then came the new president. president trump, with his secretary of education, betsy devos, took a different point of view and ignored the appeal of these students for a discharge of their student loans. and so they started stacking up. 230,000 students across the united states who were looking for this borrower defense relief from their student loans after having been lied to and defrauded by these colleges and universities found no response whatsoever from the trump administration and from educational secretary devos. as a consequence, they asked members of congress to intervene, and we tried with no success, and then secretary devos took this decisive step in
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changing the rules for these students. madam president, you know what she said? she said to these students now and in the future, if you want relief from the student debt for being defrauded, prove your case. lawyer up. get your lawyer and let's have a hearing. well, understood and these students. young, to start with, in debt to start with, are not likely to turn around and hire a lawyer to prove up whether or not corinthian in its catalogs or representations to students, for example, misrepresented the education they were offering. under the previous administration, that could be established in evidence and all the students affected by it could use that evidence. under the devos administration, it was an individual proof of evidence to qualify for borrower defense. so it left many students with no recourse. and as a consequence, they are stuck with a debt for a worthless education or one that
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didn't meet as promised. more than 223,000 of these claims are pending before the department. many have been waiting for years. the claims come from every state in the union, large, small, red, blue, and purple, and they are not going to stop. these complaints have led to this c.r.a., this congressional review act. i doubt that we're going to be taking it up this week, so i'm going to withhold making a presentation on this until we return after the presidential recess. but i want to make one last point. we are not just bringing this case on behalf of students. we're bringing this matter before the senate on behalf of veterans -- veterans. the american legion of the united states has stepped up and said to us that veterans have been defrauded just like the students you're talking about on the floor of the senate. if you believe in these veterans and these military families who are stuck with a student loan debt because of lies from colleges and universities, i
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urge my colleagues to think twice. join us in this effort to stop the devos rules and give our veterans a fighting chance not to be burdened with this unfair debt. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. schumer: madam president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader is recognized. mr. schumer: thank you, madam president. in voting to acquit president trump of an abuse of power and obstruction of congress, senate republicans sought to justify their vote by claiming that the president had, quote, learned
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his lesson. the implication was that the ordeal of impeachment and its permanent stain on his reputation that can never be erased would chasen president trump's future behavior. a toddler scolded into compliance. the explanation, frankly, looked like an excuse. it was unconvincing the moment was uttered. no president, no serious person believes president trump has learned any lesson. he doesn't learn any lessons. he does what he wants, what suits his ego at the moment. observers of the president would question whether he's even capable of learning a lesson, and unsurprisingly, the plim is plim -- flimsy rationalation by some republican senators was disproven within a matter of day. president trump was acquitted by senate republicans last
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wednesday. on friday he began dismissing members of his administration who testified in the impeachment inquiry, including the patriot lieutenant colonel alexander vindman and ambassador gordon sondland, a clear and obvious act of retaliation. very simply, that's all it was, against witnesses who told the truth under oath. president trump hates the truth time and time again, because he knows he lies. and when other people tell the truth, he hates it. so he fired them. the president even fired the brother of lieutenant colonel vindman for the crime of being related to someone the president wanted out. how vindictive, how petty, how nasty. and there are rumors now that the president may dismiss the inspector general of the intelligence community, the official who received the whistle-blower report. these are patriots all. president trump can't stand patriots because they stand for country, not for what he wants.
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yesterday once again and typically, the white house reportedly decided to withdraw the nomination of elaine mccusker who is in line to serve as pentagon comptroller and chief financial officer. why did he dismiss her, a longtime serving, very capable woman? because over the summer ms. ms. mccusker advised members of administration about the legal ramifications of denying assistance to ukraine. her crime in the eyes of president trump and his so many acolytes, henchmen in the administration, was attempting to follow the law. how dare she try to follow the law. how dare she even voice this is what the law is in this kind of administration. and of course yesterday after career prosecutors recommended that roger stone be sentenced to seven to nine years in federal
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prison for witness tampering and lying to congress the president tweeted his former confidante was being treated extremely unfairly. it appears the attorney general of the united states and other political appointees at the justice department intervened to count manned the sentencing recommendation. as a result in an unprecedented but brave, courageous and patriotic move, four career prosecutors working on the roger stone case, all four of them withdrew from the case or resigned from the justice department. asked about the clear impropriety of intervening in a federal case, the president said, quote, he has an absolute right to order the justice department to do whatever ements. -- whatever he wants. this morning the president congratulated the attorney general amazingly enough for taking charge of the case. the president ran against the swamp in washington, a place where the game is rigged by the
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powerful. i ask my fellow americans, what is more swampy? what is more stinking then the most powerful person in the country literally changing the rules to benefit a crony guilty of breaking the law? as a result, i have formally requested that the inspector general of the justice department investigate this matter immediately, and this morning i call on judiciary committee chairman graham to convene an emergency hearing of the judiciary committee to do the same, to conduct oversight and hold hearings. that's the job of the judiciary committee, no matter who is president and whether the president is from your party or not. something egregious like this demands that the inspector general investigate and demands that the chairman of the judiciary committee hold a hearing now. the president is claiming that
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rigging the rules is perfectly legitimate. he claims an absolute right to order the justice department to do anything he wants. and the president has, as his attorney general an enableer, and that's a kind word, who actually supports this view. does anyone think it's out of the question that president trump might order the f.b.i. to investigate hillary clinton, joe biden or anyone else without events to support an arbitrary violation of individual rights? i know, some far-right conspiratorial writer who has no credibility and makes things up writes it, fox news puts it on, sean hannity or somebody talks about it, and then the president says investigate. that is third world behavior, not american behavior. that kind of behavior defiles that great flag that is standing above us. this is not ordinary stuff,
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never seen it before with any president, democrat, republican, liberal or conservative. does any serious person believe the president's abuse would be limited to the justice department? does any serious person think that trump might not order the justice department to treat his friends, associates and family members differently than he treats ordinary citizens and that attorney general barr would just carry out these orders? of course none of this is out of the question. the president asserted his absolute right to do whatever he wants yesterday. we are witnessing a crisis in the rule of law in america, unlike one we have ever seen before. it's a crisis of president trump's making, but it was enabled and emobama administrationened by every -- and embold pened by every senate republican too afade to stand up to him and say the simple word
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no when the majority of them knew it was the right thing to do. republicans thought the president would learn his lesson. it turned out that the lesson he learned was not that he went too far, not that he needed to rein it in. the lesson the president learned was that the republican party will not hold him accountable no matter how egregious his behavior. not now, not ever. senate republicans voted to excuse president trump's abuses of power. they voted to abdicate the constitutional authority of congress to check on an overreaching executive. senate republicans now own this crisis and they're responsible for every new abuse of power president trump commits. john adams famously described our grand republic that he helped create as a government of laws, not of men. our founding fathers' foremost concern of course was to escape the tyranny of a government of men, more specifically a king.
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that's why the founders created a republic in america. that's why the patriots died for the freedom we are now blessed with. and yet, after almost two and a half centuries of experience in self-government as a republic, we are once again faced with a very serious and looming question, do we want a government of laws or of men? do we want to be governed by the laws of the united states or by the whims of one man? i don't think my republican colleagues fully appreciated what they were unleashing when they voted in the impeachment trial to excuse the president's conduct, although maybe they did. they're just afraid, fearful, shaking in their boots because trump might take vengeance out on them as he did on senators flake and corker. they voted to acquit the president after he used his immense power to pressure a foreign leader to announce an
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investigation to smear a rival. what we have seen in the hours and days since that fateful acquittal vote last wednesday is so disturbing. in a parade of horrible, this is one of the most horrible things president trump has done. in a parade of horribles, this is one of the most feeble, servile actions of republicans just no one saying a peep about it. we are seeing a man, we are seeing behavior of a man who has contempt for the rule of law beginning to try out the new untree strained power conferred conferred -- unrestrained power conferred on him by 52, 53 -- well, 52 republican senators. one brave one. left to his own devices, president trump would turn america into a banana republic with a dictator can do he wants and the justice department is the president's personal law firm.
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not a defender of the rule of law. it is a sad day in america, a sad day. the founding fathers created something brand-new, a republic, because they were afraid of monarchy. senate republicans aiding and abetting president trump to get much closer to that monarchy than we have been in a long time. senate republicans have created something very close to a monarchy if they can keep it. now on war powers, later today the senate will debate, will begin debate on senator kaine's war powers resolution preventing president trump from unilaterally escalating military action against iran. the constitution is clear, congress alone has the power to declare wars. the president has no authority to enter the united states into
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another endless conflict in the middle east, but i fear that the strike against iranian major general soleimani last month may bumble us into one. with this bipartisan resolution, the senate can assert its constitutional authority and send a clear bipartisan message to the president that he cannot sidestep congress when it comes to matters of war and peace. it was immediately clear that the strike against general soleimani was carried out with insufficient transparency, without proper notification of congress, and without a clear plan for what comes next. last month has only magnified these problems. president trump initially claimed that no one was hurt after iran retaliated against forces on january 8. now the pentagon says over 100 military personnel suffered a traumatic brain injury. why has it taken so long for us to learn that american troops were hurt in the attack? who ordered the withholding of
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that information? was it president trump? it sure wouldn't be surprising. and who in the military, the military, which is in a bulwark, one of the few particularly when general mattis was secretary, who in the military let that happen? just as importantly, what is the president's strategy for keeping our troops safe in the coming months? the administration has deliberately refused to be transparent with congress about the aftermath of the iranian strike. i fear that by keeping congress in the dark, president trump is once again hoping to short circuit our checks and balances and escape scrutiny. that's why senator kaine's war powers resolution is a matter of urgent necessity. i commend senator kaine on the job he has done and urge my colleagues of both parties to vote in favor of this resolution. i yield the floor.
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from alaska is recognized. mr. sullivan: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the confirmation vote on the kindred nomination begin following my remarks. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. sullivan: madam president, i rise today in support of the vote that the senate's going to take here in a few minutes on joshua kindred to be alaska's next federal district court judge, and i commend this body, particularly leader mcconnell, for prioritizing putting good, solid, young federal judges in seats in districts and circuit courts all across the country. 188 so far since the trump administration took office. and now it's alaska's turn.
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that federal judge seat that we're looking at filling here in a couple of minutes has been empty for almost four years, and in our state, in the dpraita we don't have too many opportunities for federal judges. for -- for example, alaska only has one active judge on the entire ninth circuit court of appeals out of 29 active judges. so this is an important vote, certainly for my state. and i want to talk a little bit about josh kindred. i have known josh since he was a young assistant district attorney for the state of alaska when i was attorney general. we talked about how we were going to work together to make alaska's judicial process more efficient, more effective for alaskans during his confirmation process. i certainly was impressed then, but i was impressed when i first met josh many years ago and continue to be impressed with his fierce commitment to upholding the law, the concept
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of equal access to justice for all, and his keen awareness of alaska's unique legal landscape. josh had the unanimously rated -- was unanimously rated as qualified by the a.b.a. and is a lifelong alaskan with a broad and impressive legal background. as i mentioned, after clerking on the oregon supreme court, he came back home to alaska and was promoted to the violent crimes supervisor after a number of years working in the anchorage district attorney's office where he worked to punish perpetrators of crimes and victims of some of the heinous crimes unfortunately that we have in too high numbers in alaska, particularly as it relates to sexual assault and domestic violence. his career, he has been
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committed not only prosecuting those kind of crimes but doing pro bono work to stem this very significant crisis that my state has with these heinous crimes of sexual abuse. rounding out his legal experience, josh served as the environmental counsel for the alaska oil and gas association and most recently as the regional solicitor for alaska for the u.s. department of interior. now, when your state like mine is owned by over 60% the federal government controls the land in alaska, the solicitor for the u.s. department of interior position in alaska is actually a really important one and is incredibly important in terms of qualifications for a federal judge. this wide-ranging experience will be incredibly valuable,
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madam president, as a district court judge in alaska because he is familiar, very familiar with the numerous alaska-specific laws that this body passes year after year, decade after decade. the alaska native claims settlement act, the alaska national interest lands conservation act, the trans-alaska pipeline act. madam president, this is an important point because very few states have such large, complex federal laws that are focused solely on their state, and federal courts often misinterpret these laws, don't understand these laws to the detriment of the people i represent. let me just give you a recent example. there was a federal case under
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the law i mentioned recently, anilca, as we call it in alaska. involved a moose hunter named john sturgeon who had a hovercraft and wanted to go moose hunting, and overbearing federal government agents told him he couldn't use his hovercraft in certain areas considered federal waters. sturgeon, john sturgeon knew better. he challenged the federal government. 12 years of litigation. twice up to the u.s. supreme court. federal judges at the district and certainly the ninth circuit court court of appeals level getting this case wrong every single time, and finally last year, in a unanimous 9-0 opinion, justice elena kagan summed it up very succinctly when she ruled against all these federal judges in the ninth
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circuit and for mr. sturgeon when she said if sturgeon lived in any other state, his suit would not have had a prayer of success. she went on, except sturgeon lives in alaska, and as we have said before, alaska is often the exception, not the rule under federal law. so the supreme court gets it, and josh kindred will get it. he understands alaska's unique legal jurisprudence. he is committed to honoring the commitments this body has made to alaskan first people and others in my great state, and he is committed to justice. i believe he will serve with honor and integrity on the federal court, and i urge my colleagues for a vote for his confirmation. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the question occurs on the kindred
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nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote: vote:
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the presiding officer: any senator the in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? vote
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vote: the presiding officer: if not, the yeas are #r 4. the nays are 41. the nomination is confirmed. the clerk will report the next nomination. the senator in oklahoma. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that the votes following the first vote be ten minutes in length. without objection. the votes will be ten minutes. the clerk will report the next nomination. the clerk: the judiciary, matthew thomas schelp of missouri to be united states district judge for the eastern district of missouri. the presiding officer: the question is on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote: the presiding officer: are there any senator in the chamber wishing to vote or change his are her vote? the nay yays are 72. the nays are 23. the nomination is confirmed. the clerk will report the next nomination. the clerk: nomination, the
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judiciary, john fitzgerald kness of illinois to be united states district judge for the northern district of illinois. the presiding officer: the question is on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 81, the nays are 12. the nomination is confirmed. the clerk will report the next nomination. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary. philip m. halpern of new york to be united states district judge for the southern district of new york. the presiding officer: the question occurs on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll.
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vote: the presiding officer: is there any senator in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the ayes are 77, the
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nays are 19. the nomination is confirmed. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. a senator: madam president i ask unanimous consent that for the nominations just confirmed, the motions to reconsider be made and laid on the tablen't president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: i further ask that the senate proceed to legislative session for a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from virginia. mr. kaine: madam president, pursuant to section 1013 of the department of state authorization act, fiscal years, 1984 and 1985 and in accordance of the provisions of 601-3 of the arms control act of 1976, i
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move to discharge the foreign relations committee from further consideration of joint resolution 68. the presiding officer: the motion is pending. mr. kaine: i ask to yield back all time on the motion to discharge. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, the motion is on the -- the question is on the motion to discharge. all in favor say aye. all opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. kaine: madam president i move to proceed to joint resolution 68. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to s.j. res. 68, a joint resolution to direct the removal of united states armed forces from the republic of iran that has not been authorized by congress.
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mr. kaine: i ask that the time until 2:00 p.m. be equally divided between the two leaders or their designees. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, it is so ordered. mr. cramer: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. cramer: madam president, i have seven requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority leader and minority leader. the presiding officer: duly noted. the senator from virginia. mr. kaine: i rise to speak to the body about the war powers resolution, which is pending before the senate. before i address the resolution, i want to acknowledge the combat deaths of javier guterrez and sergeant rodriguez, they were both 28-year-olds killed last week in afghanistan. while the incident is still
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under investigation, it appears they were killed by a member of the afghan security forces or someone posing as a member of the afghan security forces. this is a security force that the u.s. has armed, equipped and trained for 19 years. sergeant gueterrez leaves behind a wife and children ages 2 through 7. his father was a marine. he had previously deployed to afghanistan. sergeant guterrez leaves behind a wife, he had previously deployed to afghanistan ten times. i thought it was a misprint when i read it. a 28-year-old who previously dploitd to -- was deployed to afghanistan eight times before -- 10 times before he was killed at 28.
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this resolution is about congress reclaiming its rightful role and decisions about war. the resolution is pretty simple. we should not be at war with iran unless congress votes to authorize such a war while the president does and must always have the ability to defend the united states from imminent attack, the executive power to initiate war stops there. an offense of war requires a congressional debate and vote. this should not be a controversial proposition. it's clearly stated in the constitution we pledge to support and defend, and the principle is established there for a most important reason. if we're to order our young men and women to risk their lives and health in war, it should be on the basis of careful deliberation by the people's elected legislature and not on the say so of any one person.
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congressional deliberation educates the american public about what are the stakes -- what are the stakes involved in any proposed war. congressional deliberation allows members of congress to ask tough questions about the need for war, about the path to victory, and about how a victory could be sustained. and if following that public deliberation there is a vote of congress for war, it represents a clear statement that a war is in the national interest and that the efforts of our troops are supported by a clear political consensus. we should not allow this important process to be short circuited. our framers believed that the congressional deliberation would be the best antidote to unnecessary escalation. i've spoken often about this topic on the floor during the seven years i've been in the senate, and i don't want to
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repeat arguments i've made dozens and dozens of times here. i do want to address three objections i made to this resolution. first, there's an objection that says the bipartisan resolution is an effort to restrain president trump's powers. this is not a resolution about the president. the resolution does not say anything about president trump or any president. it's a resolution about congress. i want a president that will fully inhabit the article due powers of commander in chief, but as a member of the article 1 branch, i want an article 1 branch that will fully inhabit the article 1 powers including the power to declare war. this is not an effort to restrain president trump or some other president. this is not an effort by a democrat to point a finger or restrain republicans. no. in the history of this country. even in recent history, i
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believe we've gotten it wrong with the initiation of war whether the president was a democrat or republican or whether the majority in congress was democrat or republican. the legislative branch article 1 has too much power to devolve to the president of the fundamental question of whether the nation should be at war. this is not directed toward president trump. it would apply equally to any president. it's fundamentally about congress owning up to and taking responsibility for the most significant decisions that we should ever have to make. a second argument against the bill i heard made on the floor in recent days is it would send a message of weakness to iran or to other adversaries. now, i have to admit, madam president, that i am more concerned about the message we send to our troops and to our families. that's what i'm most interested.
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i think, as the father of a marine and as a senator from a state that is full of veteran, d.o.d. contractor, military families, that this bill sends a very strong and powerful message to our public and to our troops and their families that before we get into a war there will be a careful deliberation about whether it's necessary. that is a message of comfort, that is a message that can give our own public and our troops confidence. but to the extent that we want to consider the message this might send to iran and adversaries, i do not think that america sends a message of weakness when we proudly hold ourselves up as a nation of laws. and we pledged to follow the law when it comes to the monumental question about whether or not we should be at war. in fact, i believe we are most effective in countering our adversaries and facing most of
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our adversaries or authoritarian states that do not honor rule of law. we are most effective of countering our adversaries when we send a clear message that in this country we will stand for democratic principles, suchs -- such as the rule of law and follow those principles when we are making momentous decisions such as whether or not we should be at war. a third object -- objection i heard is this, it sends a message that america is not likely to use military force, that it might embolden bad actors. i find this argument bewildering. i don't think anyone in the world questions whether america will use military force. we have been engaged in a war against nonstate terrorism now for 19 years. the pages in this body have known nothing but war. these two 28-year-olds who were
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just killed last year, during their whole life they knew virtually nothing other than war. is america willing to use military action? we've been in a war for 19 years. we're losing troops on the battlefield like sergeants rodriguez and guterrez to this very day. we have tens of thousands of troops around the world to fight a war against terrorism and the current president is increasing the total footprint of those in the middle east to prosecute this fight. in afghanistan alone where these two sergeants were killed, we are spending $45 billion a year, 19 years later, we are still spending $45 billion a year to prosecute this fight. no one can question whether the united states will protect itself or our allies, but the choice of when to fight wars and when to use other available tools is always a question of such importance that the most careful deliberation is
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warranted. madam president, as i conclude, i just want to say this. i went and visited the hampton veterans hospital last friday as part of a regular once a year to check in with the hampton v.a., which is one of the three v.a.'s in virginia to see what they are doing. and i know every member of the senate does the same thing, visiting v.a. hospitals, and there are states elsewhere, going to see our veterans at fort belvoir in virginia. any visit of that kind produces a million of emotions, pride of our service providers, pride in our veterans as they grapple with challenging illnesses and disabilities in their lives often long after they served. but one impression that is always vivid when you visit a veterans hospital is this, the
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enduring consequences of war. as i visited the hampton v.a. hospital, i visited two units. one is a women's unit. they are having to build out the capacity to deal with the growing number of women veterans and the issues they bring to the table. i applaud what i saw at the hampton's with women's -- women's clinic and i spent time at the mental health facility and those dealing with traumatic brain energy and ptsd. we made a promise to these veterans that we will be there with them even though we don't know the consequences of the decisions we make. a significant aspect of the iraq and afghan wars that really doesn't have an earlier precedent is the ten deployment phenomenon. in what earlier war that this
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country fought do we have 28-year-old sergeants who are serving their 11th deployment in a theater of war? those repeated deployments have a long consequence in the life of a person and in the life of those close to that veteran. when you go to a v.a. and you grapple with -- madam president knows this from her own service -- you go to the v.a. and you grapple with the consequences of war, it has to make an impression upon those of us in this body charged with the sole responsibility for declaring war, that if and when we do so, we owe it the most careful deliberation that we bring to any question that we would ever resolve in our lives. that's not too much to ask for us to deliver a carefully when what's at risk for those who
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serve who depend upon us making the best possible decision is consequences that will last their own lifetimes and affect the lives of so many others. that's what this resolution is about. i don't believe it should be controversial. it is certainly bipartisan. and i hope we will stand up for this important proposition, that the careful deliberation of the senate is the most necessary thing we can do and what we owe to our troops and their families. with that, madam president, i yield the floor. mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: thank you, madam president. i come to the floor today to strongly urge all of my colleagues to join senator kaine, and i want to thank him for his extremely thoughtful and amazing approach to this. i think it's so important that we reassert congress' authority in decisions concerning our nation's security, and curbing this administration's ability to put our troops in harm's way
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without consulting the american people. madam president, following the early january attack on u.s. troops deployed in iraq triggered by president trump's decision to launch a drone strike that killed iran's qasem soleimani. i know many americans were frightened like i was to watch tensions then with iran escalate so rapidly in real time. i'm glad the president's backed down, decided not to further escalate those tensions in recent weeks as a voice for my home state of washington, including all of our service members and military families and communities. but we're not off the hook and we have every reason to believe that iran may retaliate again, which is why i remain deeply disturbed by president trump's rush to incite conflict in ways that could have significant, negative impacts on our strategic goals in the region and more importantly the
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long-term safety and security of americans at home and abroad. to date neither president trump nor his administration has provided any evidence to us here in congress to justify his actions. and despite reports from the administration shortly after the attack that there were no u.s. casualties, we are now learning more than 100 service members, 100 have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury following that attack, serious injuries that president trump dismissed as simply headaches. madam president, the american people expect their representatives, us, to have a say in decisions that may put their lives or the lives of a loved one at risk. and as the daughter of a world war ii veteran and a purple heart recipient here in the senate, i make decisions about our national security with deep concern for our brave service members and their families. a personal understanding of the sacrifices that they make for
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all of us and our nation. and an unwavering commitment to ensuring that they have the support that they need while they serve and when they come home. that's exactly why our constitution mandates that the power to declare war rests with congress, not the commander in chief. because those decisions weren't meant to be made by one person alone. and that's why i'm glad that my friend from virginia, senator kaine, is offering this war powers resolution of which i'm very proud to be a cosponsor. passing this resolution is a first step towards protecting our service members and our interests in the region by removing our troops from hostilities in or against iran unless there is a declaration of war or congressional authorization for the use of force. and this isn't just an issue for democrats. i'm very proud that this
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resolution has bipartisan support because no matter what side of the aisle you're on, we should all agree that congress must play a role in our nation's foreign policy as well as matters related to the health and safety of our service members. i am grateful for all of those who are serving in the middle east and around the world, and that's why i refuse to stand by and accept that they could be put in jeopardy or that our nation's foreign policy and safety could be upended by an impulsive late-night tweet. so i will continue to demand the president provide his legal justification for the drone strike in iraq, commit to coming before congress in advance of any further escalating steps, and explain to us how he will move forward in the region with the goal of protecting americans, our allies, and our interests. in the meantime, considering the unique recklessness of this administration, it is urgently
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important for congress to pass this resolution to block president trump's ability to start a war with iran and ensure that congress is guaranteed the opportunity to hear whatever case the president may have before taking a vote to determine the path that we want our nation to go down. in 2002 i voted against the war in iraq because i felt the administration was asking us to send our men and women into harm's way without a clear plan or a goal. and last week the house passed legislation to repeal that 200 2002a.u.f. which is a step in the right direction toward bringing our troops home. the senate should stand up and assert our authority to represent our constituents on this critical issue, too. because as senators, they are the people to whom we are all accountable to. we have to be able to go home and look them in the eye and say
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we gave questions as grave as decisions concerning war and peace, the deliberation that they warrant, and that we have done everything we can to protect our nation and our service members. madam president, you simply can't do that if you allow this president or any president to continue condeducting -- conducting foreign policy, especially by tweet unchecked. so congress has an obligation to ensure debate. we have an obligation to press this administration for a strategy, and check its power if it doesn't present a compelling one which so far it hasn't. passing this war powers resolution will help us, us do exactly that, so i strongly urge our colleagues to support this resolution. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. mr. thune: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. thune: madam president, today we're taking up a war powers resolution ostensibly
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aimed at restricting hostilities with iran. the impetus for this resolution was the strike the president authorized to take out iranian general qasem soleimani. madam president, iran has a long history of fomenting violence and conflict in the middle east and general soleimani was always right in the center of that. as head of the quds force of iran's revolution far guard corps, soleimani masterminded iran's terrorist activities for two decades. iran has been linked to one in six u.s. military deaths in iraq notably through the i.e.d.'s that have become so emblematic of the war on terror. this, madam president, was soleimani's work. he is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of american soldiers and countless innocent civilians. and the threat iran poses to the united states personnel is an ongoing threat. at the end of december an iran-backed militia fired more than 30 rockets at an iraqi military base killing an american contractor and wounding four u.s. troops.
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days later iran-backed protesters stormed the u.s. embassy in baghdad conducting a two-day siege while the embassy before withdrawing. but the strike on general soleimani wasn't just based on these recent attacks or on soleimani's long rein of terror in the middle east. the president authorized the strike on soleimani because there was credible intelligence that soleimani was planning imminent attacks against u.s. interests. that was the conclusion not of the president but of the u.s. intelligence community and nonpartisan experts like the c.i.a. director and the chairman of the joint chiefs. and it was in response to this conclusion from the intelligence community that the president ordered the strike. madam president, the war powers resolution coming before the senate was introduced out of concern that taking out iran's top terrorist leader would lead to es came laition -- escalation but that has not happened.
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the perspective provided by the nearly six weeks that have passed since soleimani's killing underscores the one-off nature of the strike. the president has not escalated this conflict or used soleimani's death as an excuse to send troops into action against iran. in fact, this strike was designed to check escalation in the region specifically increasing aggression and imminent attacks by iran. madam president, we live in a dangerous world. the united states must be able to respond to imminent threats to our security. i support a robust interpretation of congress' constitutional prerogatives when it comes to the declaration of war and the deployment of u.s. troops. but i also believe that the president has the authority and indeed the responsibility to protect the united states from imminent threats. the strike against qasem soleimani has reminded those hostile to the united states that we will not stand idly by
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while u.s. personnel are threatened. it has removed a top terrorist leader from the arena, a leader responsible for the deaths of hundreds of americans. and it has reduced although not -- certainly not eliminated the risk to our men and women in uniform deployed in the middle east. i believe the president's action was justified. and i think this resolution is an ill-advised and potentially problematic response to the president's action. madam president, with soleimani's evil influence removed from the middle east, iran has the chance to chart a new course, to rethink its participation in terrorism and its oppression of its own people. i hope, i hope, madam president, that iran will moderate its activities. but of course, we have to be prepared for the likelihood that it won't. we have to continue to ensure that our words and actions make iran and any other hostile nation think twice before
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attacking american citizens. and we have to continue to ensure that our military and intelligence community have the resources that they need to identify and to defeat any threat. madam president, i will continue to work to ensure that our military is the best prepared, best equipped fighting force in the world and that our intelligence professionals have the resources that they need to protect our country. madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i thank the senator from south dakota. at the conclusion of president trump's impeachment trial, i heard some of my republican colleagues most of whom i consider my friends say that the president would be chastened by impeachment. some of you told me you knew what he did was wrong. a number of republicans told me they admit to me that he lies a lot. they would acknowledge extorting an ally for help in the 2020 presidential campaign.
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wasn't bad enough to rise to the level of warranting removal from office, even though richard nixon never did that. even though just on the face of it, thinking of soliciting a bribe from a foreign country to help you and your reelection as president of the united states is worse than untoward. but you thought -- you told me, many of you on the republican side, that holding the trial was enough to check his bad behavior. you said things like this. and these are quotes but i will not mention who they were because they were private conversations. you said, i think he's learned he has to be a little more jishes and careful. -- judicious and careful. some of you said this publicly, too. another asked whether trump might see acquittal as a license to do it again. and one responded i don't think so. one of my colleagues said i think he knows now. if he tries to do things, he needs to go through proper channels. another said the president has been impeached. that's a big lesson. i think he will be more cautious in the future.
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the president learned a big lesson. the lesson he learned because everybody, every single person from the majority leader down the aisle to -- down the hall to every republican sitting at this desk and this disk and this desk, every republican except for mitt romney voted to acquit. every single republican voted to acquit. so the president, the lesson is he can do whatever he wants. he can abuse hisic never ever bd accountable. one republican had the courage to stand up and sting at these desks said to the president of the united states, yeah, it's okay. you've learned your lesson. yeah, your lesson is that you can do whatever you want in this -- and this body will never ever hold you accountable. so, you know what? and i thank the presiding officer, by the way. you know what? the president has gone on what we call a p.r. tour, a personal retribution tour starting at the prayer breakfast. the prayer breakfast the next day when he attacked and he attacked and he attacked all
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kinds of people. continuing through to his speech in the east room where many of my colleagues were in the audience clapping for the president when the president made these attacks on people. they say he'll never do it again. even if we vote to acquit, he'll never do it again, but then they clap for him when he starts his personal retribution tour. he removed lieutenant certainly vindman, a purple heart recipient. he was an immigrant. he left the soviet union. he wanted freedom. served in our country's military. the president, when he attacked colonel vindman, he mocked his accent. okay, he grew up speaking ukrainian and his english is damn near perfect when as i've listened to him, but he had a bit of a ukrainian accent. he mocked his accent then he mentioned that he could be subject to military prosecution. and yesterday president trump
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continued his p.r. tour, his personal retribution tour, interfering at the department of justice. i am not a lawyer, mr. president. i know the presiding officer is. most of my colleagues are. they know that the president doesn't interfere at the department of justice. he's interfering there. he's strong-arming appointees to overrule thizations of career prosecutors. these career prosecutors withdrew in protest. one resigned from the department. more on that later. then late last night when the country's eyes were on new hampshire in the primary there, the president of the united states, part of this retribution tour that my colleagues said, oh, no, he's learned from impeachment -- well, he hasn't. he is a learned he is get away with stuff. the president yanked his own nominee, former u.s. attorney jesse lieu, who had worked on, among other things, oversight of prosecutions from special counsel mueller's
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investigations. the treasure department has offered -- the treasury department has offered zero explanations force why they were withdrawing her nomination, 48 hours before her confirmation hearing. we could take a guess at why president trump pulled down her nomination. she oversaw the u.s. attorneys prosecuting president trump's criminal associates, his political operatives, like rick gates and michael flynn and roger stone. this is so obvious. what the president has done, there were people out there that displeased the president. one of them doing his public duty, career military, immigrant who fled the soviet union, speaking under oath about what the president has done, because he knew it was wrong to solicit a bribe from a foreign country. another was a lawyer that oversaw the prosecution of some of the president's political operatives, political hacks,
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catch and release as it turned out. the president is attacking them. the president is using his power to attack him. and my colleagues, who sit at this desk and this desk and this desk on the senate floor, my colleagues think it's okay to acquit him and then tell me that he is going to quit acting the way he acts? no human being would possibly think that way. she was scheduled -- ms. liu was scheduled to testify under oath before members in our banking committee tomorrow morning. we need answers as to what she would have said. were there decisions she was part of as u.s. attorney involving the president's associates what he didn't like? was he afraid more would come out about the president's -- the actions of some of the president's associates? was she aware of some of the actions of the president to
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interfere in the justice system? we need a swift and thorough d.o.j. inspector general of these prosecutorial decisions. with every passing day, mr. president, we don't see a humbled president. we see a president unleashed. again, he didn't learn a lesson from impeachment. well, actually, he learn add lesson from his -- he learned a lesson from his acquittal. the lesson he learned is he can do whatever he wants. he's president unleashed. he's bent on turning the arms of the government into his own personal vengeance operation. we can't let that stand. the department of justice is supposed to be impartial, immune from political influence. but it's become no more than a personal weapon -- or it's becoming -- not there yet, but it's started to be a potential weapon the president can unleash on his political enemies. as i said, i am not a lawyer, but i know enough to know the department of justice and the executive branch are not there to serve the president of the
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united states. the department of justice and the executive branch are there to serve the same people key do the people of ohio, the people of the presiding officer's state and all the people across this country. no one, no one should be above the law. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. barrasso: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. during the state of the union address that year -- the presiding officer: we are in a quorum call. mr. barrasso: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, during the today of the union, president trump called on congress to rebuild america's infrastructure.
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he specifically asked congress to pass america's transportation infrastructure act, as he said, to invest in new roads and bridges and tunnels, all across the land. the senate is ready to answer president trump's call. america's roads and bridges are important to every state, every community, and every tribe in the nation. the quality of our roads affects everyone. our economy is built on a well-functioning road system that allows products from rural areas like utah, like wyoming to get to our population centers. interstates like i-80 in my home state are critical arteries of commerce. america's roads create american jobs, move american products and they fuel america's economy. in 2015, the u.s. transportation system moved a daily average of roughly 49 million tons of freight. that's an average of $53 billion worth of freight every single day.
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the quality of our roads has to keep pace. we must maintain and upgrade and where necessary build america's highway infrastructure. last july the senate environment and public works committee which i chair unanimously passed america's transportation infrastructure act. the vote was 21-0. i introduced this bipartisan bill with fellow leersdz of the committee -- leaders of the committee, senator cardin, senator capito. the legislation will make an historic investment in our roads. america's transportation infrastructure act authorizes $287 billion over five years from the highway trust fund. the largest investment in america's roads included in any highway bill ever passed by congress. our bill is going to help the entire economy, the entire country. senators from our committee represent rural areas like wyoming, iowa, and alaska; and
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urban areas like new york, chicago and baltimore. america's transportation infrastructure act is a win for them all. over 90% of the money in our legislation will go to states through the highway formula funding. formula funding gives each state the flexibility to address their specific surface transportation needs. the formula-based approach has been very successful in the past. it effectively and efficiently delivering infrastructure money to states where they can make decisions as to which projects to pursue. america's transportation infrastructure act maintains this important approach so states get the funds that they need. america's transportation infrastructure act also expands successful federal loan leveraging programs. a single taxpayer dollar is where one of these federal loan programs can get 40 times that much in actual spending. between new authorization, leveraging programs, state
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match requirements and input from our other communities our bill's total impact on infrastructure will be nearly $500 billion. america's transportation infrastructure act is momentous and it must be responsibly paid for. when our committee passed the legislation, it included a committee and a commitment that the bill should be paid for. the environment and public works committee doesn't have jurisdiction over the revenues for the highway bill. that's why i'm working closely with senate finance committee chairman chuck grassley to make sure this legislation is paid for. it's no silver bullet. we all need to find multiple sources of revenue. one thing the democrats and republicans agree on is that the people who use the roads should contribute to maintaining them. this must include drivers of electric vehicles. right now the drivers of electric vehicles contribute nothing to the highway trust fund. if these electric vehicles were contributing at a rate comparable to drivers in my home
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state of wyoming it would generate billions of dollars for road maintenance over the next decade. electric vehicle fees alone won't pay for this legislation but it's an important start. so i'm going to continue to work with chairman grassley to find responsible ways to fund the legislation. it's time to make an historic investment in america's roads and bridges. america's transportation infrastructure act will grow our economy, will improve the safety of our roads, and will enhance the quality of life for the american people. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. graham: i'd ask unanimous consent to terminate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. graham: thank you, mr. president. today i would like to rise in opposition to senator kaine's war powers resolution, s.j. res. 68. i've had a long-standing opposition to the war powers act. i think it's an unconstitutional intrusion on the ability of any
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commander in chief to defend the nation and to direct military operations. this statute was passed, i think, in the 1970's. it was a way to deal with the vietnam war. i've always believed the best thing congress can do when it comes to dealing with military operations or long-standing conflicts that it disapproves of is to cut off funding. i think that's what the framers had in mind. the inherent authority of any commander in chief to defend the nation is part of our constitutional checks and balances. the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces. you cannot have 535 people planning and implementing military operations. that 535 would be congress. can you imagine what would happen if our nation had to respond in real time and you had to get 535 members of congress to agree on anything. so this resolution is designed to prevent actions against the
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islamic republic of iran without authorization. it does acknowledge in the law we can take defensive action. we can always defend ourselves. it's inherent i think to putting people in harm's way. but i've been consistent over time, i've opposed the war powers act being used against all presidents, republican or democrat, and i will continue to do so because i do believe from a national security point of view, this will create a nightmare for our country's ability to defend itself. yemp command in -- every commander in chief has to have the latitude and the flexibility to engage enemies of this nation in real time and to send messages that are clear. the president has decided to withdraw from the iranian nuclear agreement early on in his presidency. i supported that action. we're trying to find a way to replace it with something that's more sustain a


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